Stuck, playing at the Factory Theatre Ante-chamber as a part of the Next Stage Theatre Festival, is a 30-minute improvised play starring Natasha Boomer and a roster of guest comedians and improvisers. Each night will feature a new guest star but every show starts off with the premise of being stuck in a setting suggested by the audience.
The opening night performance I attended featured Boomer and guest star Rob Baker as a couple of dysfunctional but charming parents stuck in a wardrobe (admittedly at my suggestion). As they wait for their son to come home and let them out, Boomer and Baker argue their way through a list of oft-broached middle class, middle age topics including sex, parenting, technology, and the popularity of Drake.
This show was less physical than other improv shows I’ve been to but I think it was mostly due to the constraints of the premise. Not only are the characters both literally and figuratively stuck, but the performers only had a small square stage tucked in a corner to work with. The physicality of the performances may change each night depending on the guest and the audience participation, but today’s show felt very much like watching a funny conversation between close friends.
Thankfully, I mostly enjoyed the banter between Boomer and Baker, both seasoned performers who were obviously comfortable with one another. There were a few moments of lag but someone would soon snap back with a new quip or bring up a new, even more ridiculous topic. Sometimes all it took was Baker’s expression of incredulity at whatever Boomer was talking about for the audience to start laughing again.
The talking heads comedy of Stuck may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I had a good time and my guest thought it was “interesting.” If anything, I think you should go just to see some ace improvisers try to create a surprisingly long continuous show right before your very eyes.
- All Next Stage Theatre Festival performances are being held at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St.)
- Tickets for Mainstage and Studio shows are $15 and Ante-chamber performances are $10.
- Showtimes and ticket information are available at fringetoronto.com/next-stage-festival/
Photo of Natasha Boomer by Tanja Tiziana.